There is nothing worse than being in what you thought was a happy, committed relationship, and one day just waking up with that gut feeling in your chest that something isn't right.
I've been there, most of us have been there, and man, does it suck.
Suspecting that you have a cheating partner is absolutely heartbreaking. Whether it's just a suspicion or the stomach-dropping "I'm coming to you as a woman" Instagram DM, it can have you feeling pretty messed up. To be honest, it's probably set you on a warpath to find out the truth.
If you're not the outright phone-checking type, or you just prefer having a little evidence in your back pocket before you accost your partner at 4 am when you can't keep it all in any longer, then I've got something to help you out.
Body language: the secret unspoken code to all our thoughts and behaviors. Seriously, every action or inaction you do has a subconscious reason for it. So, what signs can you be on the lookout for?
Things to know
- Things such as discomfort, defensiveness, and nervousness are all recognized by various body language experts as potential signs of guilt.
- Sometimes it's not what someone's doing - but what they're NOT doing. Keep an eye out for avoidance and lack of affection.
- Being overly chilled might also indicate guilt too - but in this case, you've got a particularly manipulative cheater on your hands.
The way you act around people tells you everything you need to know about how you feel about them or what thoughts you might be having, you just need to know what you're looking for. Here are my top 5 signs:
- The topic of cheating makes them jittery
- They're super weird about their phone
- They're being physically cold
- Discussing that 'one person' is visibly uncomfortable
- They're overly relaxed
1. The topic of cheating makes them jittery
This is probably one of the biggest body language signs of a cheat to look out for. If they've cheated, or feel as though you're close to uncovering their infidelity, then even the mere topic of cheating on his girlfriend can be enough to throw them into a fit of subconscious confessions.
A plotline in a movie you're both watching about a cheating wife might have them tensing their face muscles and staring unblinkingly ahead. You telling them about a friend's affair may see them avoiding eye contact and fiddling with their clothes.
The nervousness of being in such close contact with a topic they want to avoid being faced with, and more importantly, want to avoid being put at the forefront of your mind, is of course going to spark nervous and 'on edge' reactions.
Keep an eye on the sudden change in facial expressions and body movements when the topic is brought up. Wide eyes with frowned brows, twitching or squirming in their seat, rubbing their arms and picking their nails. These are all signs of some deeply hidden secrets being unknowingly spoken aloud.
People don't just get all anxious about third-party affairs, there's no reason for them to be getting all twitchy over your brother's "extended work trip". It doesn't affect their life at all, so ask yourself why it seems to make them so uncomfortable to discuss.
2. They're super weird about their phone
Everyone has things in their text messages or on social media that they don't want to share. It's normal to not disclose every conversation you have with friends, every embarrassing old photo in your gallery, and especially not the dreaded search history, with your partner. Everyone is entitled to boundaries and privacy.
But on the other hand, literally lunging toward you when you pick up their phone or practically gluing their body to yours whenever you're changing the song on Spotify is not normal; and pretty indicative of a cheating spouse.
People with something to hide generally want to keep any evidence of their wrongdoing to themselves. In the age of social media, where do you think all that evidence is going to be?
Placing their hand around the screen, slightly facing their back toward you when texting, paying weirdly close attention to you when you're using their phone, and suddenly keeping it on their person at all times (especially to pee or shower, sigh) are unfortunately not just huge but actually common signs of infidelity.
3. They're being physically cold
Your partner no longer being as warm and affectionate with you could be a (not so) subtle sign of guilty conscience coming out to play. Or more devastatingly, that coldness towards you could be a pretty awful way of saying that they've been flirting with somebody else. Terrible, I know.
Some of those frosty non-verbal cues might look like this:
- Tilting their head away from you when you go in for a smooch
- Crossing their arms and making their body appear smaller in your company
- Frowning or uncharacteristic mood swings around you, seemingly for no reason at all
- Suddenly leaving space between you and facing their body away
- Grumpily shaking off all your sexual advances out of the blue
- Avoiding intimate eye contact
- A sudden uninterested monotone vocal tone when they're talking to you
Of course, your partner going from loving and kind to physically cold and uncaring can be unbelievably jarring, and can generally point to telltale signs of an affair. But it's worth opening up an honest conversation before assuming. If they're displaying these behaviors rather suddenly, they can be warning signs of mental health problems.
Probably not a great idea to immediately demand to know about their secret marriage and kids if there's a chance they're just struggling with their mental health right now, give a conversation a shot first!
4. Discussing that 'one person' is visibly uncomfortable
If you think your partner is cheating, chances are you have a rough guess of who the potential new lover is.
Pay very close attention to how they react when this person is brought up in conversation and watch the sudden change in their overall vibe. If they're cheating and you casually bring up this affair partner, there are a couple of ways it could go.
They're either going to adopt all that nervous energy we talked about earlier; the twitching, skin rubbing, eye contact a thing of the past as their gaze darts frantically around the room in an uncomfortable panic. Or alternatively, you're going to see some physical signs of defensiveness.
Some people approach uncomfortable situations with an angry defense, and this could look like aggressive finger tapping, frowning at the mention of their name, biting their cheeks, and especially offering up unnecessary insults toward the aforementioned new lover.
(I know that's not technically a non-verbal cue, but so many people don't know that your partner bringing up strangely random insults about a person can be a real red flag made to throw you off the scent!)
Their demeanor seeming distressed and defensive at the mention of their name for absolutely no reason is a sure-fire warning sign, keep an eye on that hyperactive bouncing leg and scorned facial expressions.
5. They're overly relaxed
If you trust your gut (which you usually should) then you might've already asked your partner about their cheating. This is a tough conversation for sure and definitely a stressful situation for the cheater to try and worm their way out of.
You'll find a real gold mine of body language warning signs in this little chat, and you need to pay close attention to the subtle changes in their demeanor.
If they're trying to throw you off their trail, they might react to your questions with overly relaxed and nonchalant body language signs. Things like leaning back in their chair with an open posture, smiling or laughing, sitting comfortably still with their legs tucked underneath them, and playfully picking up or arranging objects to divert focus are some real sneaky red flags.
The truth is, if you're (calmly and healthily) approaching your partner about infidelity, they should be a little tense. If they're not doing anything wrong, and you're not the kind of person that's constantly asking them with no evidence, then they should be validating your concerns and answering any questions you have with a little empathy and concern for why you feel that way.
If they are doing something wrong, then their first instinct might be to try and throw you off by being extremely overly calm and trying to minimize your concerns. The physical signs will all be there, no innocent partner is going to confidently slouch in their chair grinning like they're at the movies while you're clearly distressed.
On a side note, alongside the awful nature of physical or emotional affairs, this behavior is ridiculously manipulative. Now I never recommend someone sticks around with a cheater, but add subtle signs of gaslighting into the mix too and you're in dangerous territory of that person really hurting your mental health over time.
Watch for these signs, being knowledgeable about body language cues could save you from something much worse than just a cheater.
Protecting yourself from someone harming your well-being and happiness is extraordinarily important. Sometimes that's going to mean seeking out the truth or some evidence on your own wit and observation.
Understanding body language is an irreplaceable tool, it can help you understand a little more about who and what you're dealing with in a stressful situation like cheating. It can be especially important for those in unsafe environments who want a little insight or evidence without having to use confrontation.
You will know the context of your situation better than I do, and for most people analyzing the current state of your relationship and applying their non-verbal cues to it can give you a clearer view of what you're dealing with. Maybe you're going through a rough patch and their coldness reflects that, or the subtle changes to their character could be attributed to personal problems or low self-esteem in your relationship.
All in all, negative or unusual body language at the very least can tell you that there's something either wrong in the relationship or with the person. But if you have a gut feeling that there is something wrong, and their behavior is matching up with that, then cheating may be what you're dealing with.
But really, body language can help you lay some foundations of evidence. They could be acting as their very own lie detection system for you without ever even knowing it. But your best bet for actual closure is an honest conversation, as I always say.
If you've found yourself noticing these signs, and are pretty sure of your suspicions, don't beat yourself up about it. Dealing with infidelity is a painful process, but the silver lining is that it gives you a very clear view of who they are and their morality.
It's always better to know now than later, no matter the length of the relationship. So get out there, buy yourself some new clothes, spend some extra time looking after your mental health, and prioritize yourself.
Cheaters are never worth the time of day, you'll find yourself in a much better mood and state of mind with them out of your life!